3 tips to make sure you handle Medicare enrollment properly

Courtesy photo (Michigan Medicare Specialist)

With open enrollment almost here, there might be aspects of the benefits process that some seniors don’t know about.

Debbie Stroup, a local expert on Medicare, offers these tips for seniors who might have questions during open enrollment.

Make sure you are in the right plan

Stroup said oftentimes people make decisions to enroll in plans based on what friends or acquaintances tell them. It’s important to not adhere to those emotions and thoroughly research the plans that are best, starting with making sure your plan works with all the professionals that treat you.

“The plan needs to work with all of your doctors, all of your prescriptions, your pharmacy, your eye doctor and your dentist,” Stroup said. “That’s the No. 1 thing.”

From there, if there are five different plans that all do work with your professionals, then researching which one fits you the best is imperative.

“Take a deep dive into how you are going to use the plan,” Stroup said. “Are you a snow bird and can you travel with this? Are you really looking for a lot of freebies? Do you go to the hospital a lot?”

If you turn 65, decide if Medicare is the best option

Stroup said that when you turn 65 years old, a “whole brand new world” opens up since you are eligible to sign up for Medicare.

However, if you are 65 and still working and prefer to stay on an employer’s health plan, that is an option also.

“You can do one or the other,” Stroup said. “It’s really not one size fits all.”

However, it’s important to note that Medicare demands that you sign up at age 65, unless you can prove you have credible health insurance through an employer.

You’ll have to show that you have credible health insurance or risk a lifetime penalty when you do retire and need Medicare.

Know when you can sign up for Medicare

Some seniors might not know that it doesn’t really matter when you turn 65 in a calendar year.

A 65th birthday can be in the months outside of open enrollment, and one can still sign up for Medicare.

For example, if you turn 65 in July, you can sign up for Medicare.

“You have what’s called a special situation,” Stroup said.

Stroup did say that there is a 7-month window to sign up. You can sign up in the three months before your birthday month, during the birthday month, or in the three months after your birthday month.

If you’re a senior citizen in need of medical coverage or know someone who is in need, visit this website to learn more or schedule a consultation on what type of options are best. You can also call 248-227-0347 or email debbie@michiganmedicarespecialist.com.

Stroup said her services are free of charge to her clients.

Stroup does not offer every plan available in your area. Please contact medicare.gov or 1-800-MEDICARE to get information on all your options.

Click or tap on this quiz to learn more about Medicare and what you need to know about enrollment.